Daniel Nicolai remains in good spirits.
Almost three months before the end of the current lease of the English Theater in the Gallileo high-rise, the artistic director still hopes that the established location will be retained.
"I'm committed to optimism," he says.
Since 2003, the theater has been housed on the ground floor and basement of the tower.
Whether it can remain there beyond April 15 is still uncertain.
The unresolved situation hangs over the house like a "sword of Damocles": "The situation takes a lot of time and energy and also eats away at the image of the theater abroad." In London, where the theater casts actors and prepares new plays, it is gradually penetrating , the situation in which the Frankfurt cultural institution finds itself.
Nicole Nadine Seliger
Editor in the Rhein-Main-Zeitung
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The fact that the theater faces an uncertain future is due to its position as a subtenant of Commerzbank AG, which is the main tenant of the high-rise building, which has been owned by real estate investor CapitaLand since 2019.
The basis for all agreements between all parties involved is the civil law contract from 1999 between the city of Frankfurt and Dresdner Bank, which merged with Commerzbank ten years later.
Under the terms of the agreement, the English Theater "will have access to its current premises in the Gallileo Tower from 2010 in return for payment of market rent if it is willing and able to pay it," according to the culture department.
As the department confirms on request, the city understands the agreement to be “indefinite in time,
The theater, which has been advised pro bono by the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer for several months, also relies on this point of view.
"Due to the contract, we see ourselves as entitled to stay in the theater and are optimistic that this will also be recognised," says Rainer Riess, member of the board of the sponsoring association of the English Theatre.
According to the culture department, the original contract from 1999 is also binding for all legal successors of Dresdner Bank.
He envisages "that the bank transfers this obligation in favor of the theater to all subsequent owners in the event of a sale".
This would also bind the current owner, the Singaporean investor CapitaLand, to the agreement.
In the meantime, however, it is doubtful whether this passage was actually passed on to the new owner when the tower was sold or whether it was simply left out, as the cultural policy spokesman for the Frankfurt CDU, Christian Becker, noted in December.
A final clarification has not yet been made, the city is currently still in talks with Commerzbank, "from which it expects results in a timely manner with regard to the necessary planning security for the theater", as the department reports.
As a "final concession", Commerzbank announced in September 2022 that it would once again extend the contract with the theater, which normally expires in December 2022, until April 15, 2023, in order to enable the theater to end the season.
In this context, she pointed out that since 2003 she had taken on around nine million euros in rental and operating costs for the theater.
The English Theater has only had to pay for the additional costs itself since the beginning of 2023.